Police: Text messages linked defendants to robbery

Zachary Marquess
Brandon Williams

FRONT ROYAL – Court documents show Warren County authorities used cell phone communications between two IHOP employees to link them to a robbery that sent an assistant restaurant manager to the hospital on May 11.

The defendants, Brandon Scott Williams, 28, of 1409 Belmont Ave., and Zachary S. Marquess, 22, of 366 W. 11th St., both of Front Royal, are being held without bail in the Rappahannock-Warren-Shenandoah Regional Jail.

A criminal complaint filed in Warren County General District Court identifies the victim of the robbery as John P. Vallerie. The complaint written by Investigator Brandon Darr of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office states that Vallerie suffered a possible broken nose, a cut and bruises to the head and scrapes to his back after a masked man attacked him with a baseball bat at about 4:24 a.m. in the IHOP at 135 Crooked Run Plaza Road.

Vallerie was taken to Warren Memorial Hospital and released later in the day.

The complaint states the intruder entered the kitchen through a doorway and a struggle appeared to ensue.

The complaint describes the scene after Sheriff’s Office officials arrived: “In this area, Investigator Darr observed articles of clothing lying on the floor along with what appeared to be bloodstains (and) turned over furniture.”

The complaint states the assailant attacked Vallerie in the manager’s office and hit him with an aluminum baseball bat. The robber then took money from the safe, later estimated at $5,000 to $6,000, after Vallerie agreed to open it.

“The suspect then dragged the manager to the freezer located toward the rear of the restaurant kitchen area,” the complaint states. “The suspect then put the victim in the freezer. The suspect is then observed exiting the rear fire door from which he entered.”

Darr wrote that a trail of bloodstains on the floor led from the manager’s office, past the grill area and then around the freezer area.

“All the bloodstains present appeared to be consistent with that of having come from the victim’s apparent injuries sustained as a result of being physically assaulted by the suspect,” Darr wrote.

A cell phone recovered by Darr at the scene was traced to Williams, the complaint states. Later, authorities found a text message thread on the cell phone that showed Williams, who was not working at the time, communicating with Marquess between 12:46 p.m. and 4:36 a.m.

Another complaint written by Darr states that the message thread revealed Williams plotting the robbery with Marquess, who was working.

The complaint states that Marquess “texted info to Brandon informing him of the assistant manager’s location in the office. Zach and Brandon also texted about the victim being tied up in the freezer as well as utilizing a baseball bat during the assault. Money was also discussed in the text messages as well as its location in the office.”

Lt. Gordon Foster of the Sheriff’s Office said Monday the investigation is continuing but would not comment on the possibility of further arrests.

“At this point, the investigation is continuing, but as far as expanding as to whether others were involved, I cannot expand on that right now,” Foster said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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